“Take business park land out of Local Plan say campaigners”

“Campaigners have called for land earmarked for a multi-million pound Sidford business park to be taken out of the Local Plan.

t follows East Devon District Council’s decision to throw out an application to build 8,445sqm of employment floor space on an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The proposed development for the Two Bridges site received 255 comments of objection and 111 in support. A campaign group also submitted a petition to the council with 1,400 signatures opposing the plans.

Now campaigners are calling on council bosses to look at removing the area, earmarked for development, out the Local Plan, claiming it should have never been there in their first place.

The Herald understands the application could once again go to appeal following a response from East Devon District Council saying it would not be appropriate to respond to the campaigners’ comments.

An EDDC spokeswoman said: “As we understand that this matter is now going to appeal, it would not be appropriate to make any comments about the status of the Local Plan.

“The campaigners can make their points direct to the Planning Inspector in support of the council’s decision to refuse.”

Councillor Marianne Rixson has spoken out on the reasons why the town should join her rallying call to pressure the authority to look at taking the site out of the Local Plan at the earliest opportunity.

The Local Plan

“When a Government inspector was examining the suitability of the site in 2014, county Highways failed to point out that the roads would not be able to cope with the traffic an industrial estate would bring. Highways only admitted their error in September 2016.

“After the draft Local Plan had been sent to the Inspector for final approval in 2015, district councillors realised they’d made a mistake and voted almost unanimously to try to remove it from the plan but no effort was made to explain to the Inspector the reasons why the site was unsuitable – consequently he had no option but to rule that the site should remain, subject to planning.”

Flooding issues:

“It is on a floodplain and flooding will inevitably get worse with climate change.

“The Two Bridges site is in zones 3A and two flood risk zones – yet another reason why this site is unsuitable.”

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB):

“England has 34 AONB all of which are supposed to have the highest rate of protection in law and Government policy.

“We should only build on AONB if there is an overwhelming need for a development. The owners’ plans for a business park were market driven so there isn’t any hard proof. Surely we need to know for sure that there is an overwhelming need for employment space in the Sid Valley before we destroy this AONB?

“I would advocate for the district and town councils to work together to look seriously at how we can attract good quality, well paid jobs into the valley and how we can most effectively locate them without encroaching into the AONB and where there is good transport infrastructure.

“We need to attract good quality, well paid jobs into the area. Surely we can do this without encroaching into the AONB and where there are better road links? Regrettably by mid November Sidmouth will have lost three banks and building societies. Far better to turn these buildings into offices, which would help to keep our town vibrant, rather than build new offices on the outskirts.


“Traffic cannot cope on this narrow road as it is due to the bottlenecks and number of HGVs already using the A375 – it will not be able to cope with more.

“Highways now agree this is not suitable for HGVs. “For two lorries to pass you need 6.5 metres. The main access for business park would be School Street which has a pinch point of 4.77 metres. There are several points through Sidbury too where the road is less than 5.5m, including Sidbury Mill and Cotford Bridge.

“Surely there should be a weight restriction on this road?

“According to an FOI submitted by the Say No Sidford Business Park campaigners some 30,000 cars travelled along the road in one off-peak week in April.

“I’d like to call for a weigh restriction on these struggling roads.

Endangered Bats and Japanese knotweed:

“The Two Bridges site is an important wildlife site for species that are protected such as horseshoe bats, otters and dormice.

“Knotweed exterminators have been seen on the site – it takes several years to get rid of.

Light Pollution

“The Norman Lockyer Observatory is both historical and the home to an active amateur astronomical society.

It also has plans to build a £70,000 extension so more experiments can take place than ever before.

“The light from any business park there will have an impact on the night sky, which currently has semi rural dark skies status at Sidford.”


“These 14 East Devon villages and towns are going to expand”

“A total of 14 East Devon towns and villages have been earmarked for expansion, and residents have got a final chance to have their say on it.

Following consultation event in 2016, the public is invited to give even more feedback on the version of the East Devon Villages Plan that the district authority is going to submit.

The consultation includes details of the feedback received in response to the 2016 consultation and how the council amended the document after listening to those views. ..”

Any comments received in response to the latest consultation will be forwarded to the Inspector appointed to examine the plan – this is expected to happen during Autumn 2017.

Councillor Andrew Moulding, Chairman of the Strategic Planning Committee, said: “We would like to hear from as many residents as possible, as their views are an important part of the process in finalising the Villages Plan, which is destined to help determine planning applications across the district.”

Residents affected have until 12pm on

Wednesday May 10

to comment on the plan and the supporting documents and all comments will be sent to the Inspector appointed to examine the plan.

The Proposed Submission Villages Plan is available to view on the East Devon Council website:


as well as at local libraries and in the council offices in Sidmouth.

Villages/towns affected are:

Clyst St Mary
East Budleigh
Newton Poppleford
West Hill

Maps are helpfully provided in the Express and Echo article. In addition, maps showing the extent of land authorised for business use at Greendale and Hill Barton business parks have been included in the Villages Plan.


Cornwall Local Plan Inquiry starts in chaos

Police and security guards were in evidence on the first day of the Cornwall Local Plan inquiry yesterday with vocal protesters inside and outside the meeting room giving vent to their anger.

PA systems were turned odd when the chairman of “Kernow Matters to Us” made a very long public speech ( where he said the Inspector was running the inquiry like it was in old East Germany. The only non-developer allowed at the table at the meeting when it finally kicked off had this to say about the experience”


A mail from Armorel Carlyon today.

Dear All, I have been relegated to the bottom of the table. On the right hand side, 14 developers, and 7 more on my left. I did have Mr David Pollard sitting next to me, and he was allowed to speak on two occasions. I have NOT BEEN ALLOWED TO SPEAK ALL DAY!! I felt the Inspector was extremely disparaging towards me in front of all these people – I feel totally humilated – probably due to my outspoken contributions yesterday.

The housing figures for Truro were 3900 and the developers were trying to increase this figure. The Inspector said that I must find something in my responses to justify my speaking. I protested that I was the only person around the table that had any knowledge of Truro, but I was roundly refused.

I am the ONLY obvious Cornish person around the table. They are sitting here just carving up Cornwall in front of my eyes. I have just found a response I made in March 2013 on Policy 3 which stated that the allocations for Truro had been allocated and agreed to in the Neighbourhood Plan. I have written a note to the Inspector referring to my original response. I am feeling very sad and very angry.”

With best wishes
Armorel C.

Whose fault is it the Local Plan took so long? Sidmouth says EDDC’s Mark Williams!!!

Not the false start made by the first Local Development Framework group, which spent 2-plus years visiting sites of favoured developers.

Not the East Devon Business Forum and its Chairman disgraced ex-councillor Graham Brown which attempted to get an iron grip on it.

Not the officers and councillors who employed consultant after consultant until they found one they agreed with.

Not the same officers and councillors who had their drafts thrown out twice by the Planning Inspector.


Sidmouth delayed the Local Plan! and Mark William’s loses it!

At a heated meeting of EDDC councillors tonight to approve the Local Plan, CEO Mark Williams lost control of himself in a big way.

In response to a fairly conciliatory speech from resident Richard Eley, on behalf of Save our Sidmouth, a furious Williams lambasted Sidmouth for delaying the Local Plan and increasing the number of houses in it!

“But for Sidmouth we would have had a local plan three years ago,” he ranted, adding that “the end result of all your objections is that we’ve ended up in the local plan with more houses than originally proposed.” (Gasps of astonishment from the public and cries of “rubbish” and “nonsense”.)

A few minutes later he rounded on Richard Eley again accusing him of “churlishly” calling the Inspector “idiotic”. Eley sprang to his feet and angrily denied he had used that word about the inspector, and demanded an apology – supported by more cries of “scandal” and “apologise” from the public.

He insisted on reading the offending part of his speech again which proved his point that the i-word was never used. In fact, he described the decision to include land at Sidford for a business park as “stupid”.

After more moments of mayhem and shouting from the public, a reluctant apology was extracted from the CEO.

Many observers were left wondering if Mr Williams might not need a long rest –as in retirement on a generous pension………

BREAKING NEWS: Diviani says Local Plan sound – BUT Inspector rewrites it with nearly 200 major changes!

Here is Diviani’s puff job:


The “main modifications” are here:

Click to access appendix-1-main-modifications-2.pdf

A quick glance suggests that the I spector did more work on the plan in a few months than EDDC did in nearly a decade. There are MANY changes that have implications for just about every town and village in the district.

More to follow …

BUT one major point:

Councillor Stuart Hughes was talking out of his … when he said, in a re ent Sidmouth Herald, thanks to him and ex-Councillor Troman the employment land site in Sidford had been deleted – IT HAS NOT BEEN DELETED.

An enforcable Local Plan “soon”: most definitely not there yet

Diviani’s press release says:

“… I can, however, say that the report concludes that both the Local Plan and CIL charging schedule are sound and can move to adoption subject to main modifications. …”

So, what are “main modifications”?

Here is an explanation:

“What if modifications are required to make a submitted Local Plan sound?”

The Inspector can recommend ‘main modifications’ (changes that materially affect the policies) to make a submitted Local Plan sound and legally compliant only if asked to do so by the local planning authority under section 20(7C) of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act as amended). The council can also put forward ’additional modifications’ of its own to deal with more minor matters.

Where the changes recommended by the Inspector would be so extensive as to require a virtual re-writing of the Local Plan, the Inspector is likely to suggest that the local planning authority withdraws the plan. Exceptionally, under section 21 (9) (a) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the Secretary of State has the power to direct a local planning authority to withdraw its submitted plan.

Inspectors will require the local planning authority to consult upon all proposed main modifications. Depending on the scope of the modifications, further Sustainability Appraisal work may also be required. The Inspector’s report on the plan will only be issued once the local planning authority has consulted on the main modifications and the Inspector has had the opportunity to consider the representations on these.

Whether to advertise any ‘additional modifications’ is at the discretion of the local planning authority, but they may wish to do so at the same time as consulting on the main modifications..”


So, it seems these main modifications will have to be put to consultation – again and possibly Sustainability Appraisals will need to be prepared. And then the Inspector has to consider responses – again.

Will we see an adopted Local Plan “soon” as Diviani intimates? Well, it all depends on your definition of “soon”!

And, in the meantime, our developers will continue to run amok.

Local Plan declared sound-ish, sort of … 17,100 homes to be shoe-horned in to the district

Well, it’s sort-of sound except that it isn’t yet being published because EDDC has to “fact check” it and/or respond to it ….. or simply agree with it.  It appears that Mr Thickett, aware of EDDC’s foot-dragging in this area has said that he wants their response within two weeks.  The press release also mentions “main modifications.


So, don’t hold your breath – many a slip twixt cup and lip and every delay means that developers can whap in more pre-agreement planning applications …..

And EDDC will, of course, have to find time to accept it in their very busy meetings schedule, which might also take some time.


Local Plan progress – is telepathy involved?

According to Great Leader Diviani’s Christmas message, he expects the latest version of the draft Local Plan to be adopted early next year.

But how does he know this?

According to the EDDC web page where ALL correspondence with Mr Thickett is supposed to be published:


EDDC has not written to Mr Thickett since February 2015 and Mr Thickett has not replied since March 2015.

Special telepathy perhaps to which the public is not allowed access?

Q. When is a Plan not a Plan? A. When it’s an EDDC fudge?

At the July Public Examination Inspector Thickett instructed EDDC to reach agreement with Natural England over outstanding issues regarding compliance with the European Habitat Directive. These are legally binding on EDDC and, therefore, potential show stoppers. (It is claimed the phrasing he used was “lock yourselves in a darkened room until you reach agreement” – but who would voluntarily do that with an EDDC planner?).

Not surprising then to find the amendments proposed to the Draft Plan by EDDC in August didn’t mention that agreement had been reached, only that there had been a “dialogue”. EDDC’s proposed solution is to duck the issue by removing any dependency between the Exmouth Master Plan and the Local Plan i.e. Exmouth regeneration is irrelevant to achieving the staggering economic growth assumed in the Local Plan.

So the Watch watchers were interested to read the following article by Becca Glidden in last Week’s Journal under the title “Setback for major regeneration sites”. Amongst all the nuanced phrasing we are left wondering when is a plan not a plan? Maybe our readers can enlighten us?

Here is the text of the article:

Major sites earmarked for regeneration have been struck out of a major new planning document – after objections from Natural England.

The sites include the seafront Splash Zone/ Queen’s Drive, the Imperial Road car park, the rugby ground, bus station, estuary car park, London Inn car park and town centre post office.

They have been removed from the proposed East Devon Local Plan, which is currently undergoing public consultation.
The regeneration works have been deleted from the proposed planning document because Natural England said the proposals were not `legally sound’.

Natural England, a group championing the preservation of the natural environment for future generations, said East Devon District Council (EDDC) had failed to carry out a full conservation assessment of the Exmouth sites earmarked for regeneration. [Comment from Owl: Natural England is the Government’s statutory advisory body on this – i.e. top dog].

In a letter to EDDC, Natural England said: “Because we advise that we are unable to agree that the Habitat Regulations Assessment is complete, we consider that the Local Plan is not legally sound, since the statutory requirements of the assessment process have not been followed.

This remains the case.”

The regeneration sites are contained in a document called the Exmouth Masterplan, a planning paper which forms part of the proposed East Devon Local Plan.

An EDDC spokesperson told the Journal: “The Exmouth Masterplan is one of a suite of planning documents that support the [proposed] Local Plan, however, the Exmouth Masterplan needs updating.

“The issue which Natural England has concerns about, is whether all of the Exmouth Masterplan can be acceptably delivered, bearing in mind the possibility of adverse impacts on the Exe Estuary wildlife site.

“Because of the concerns expressed by Natural England, the council has withdrawn the direct links/references between the Exmouth Masterplan and the Local Plan to enable the Local Plan to move forward.

“The sites in Exmouth can still come forward, but to show that they are acceptable, each site and the scheme on that site will need to be subject to its own detailed assessment under the habitat regulations – Natural England will take a keen interest in these assessments.”

The district council said the seafront Splash/ Queen’s Drive, the Imperial Road car park, the rugby ground, bus station, estuary car park, London Inn car park and town centre post office would be included in a refreshed Masterplan, a council document which sets out the future for Exmouth.

The council said its regeneration plans for Exmouth were ongoing and would be completed.

The spokesperson said plans would be submitted for the Splash/Queens Drive development before the end of the year.
“Projects in the Masterplan remain in place for delivery. The delivery of Masterplan projects will be aligned with the new Local Plan policies, as well as wider rules and regulations. In the mean-time, the existing Masterplan remains in force.

“The Queen’s Drive proposals are proceeding and a planning application for the enabling works – road and car park – has recently been submitted.

“An application for the second phase will be forthcoming before the end of the year.”

Our summary: Now you see it, now you don’t!

That could be EDDC’s new motto, perhaps!

Yet another Local Plan consultation

Will this nightmare never end?

From EDDC:

“The East Devon Local Plan Inspector has asked that we consult on additional changes to the local plan. The consultation will run from Friday 16 October 2015 to 12.00 Noon on Monday 30 November 2015.

These changes and further information about the consultation can be viewed on the Council web site at:

We will send copies of the paperwork to public libraries in East Devon and to Lyme Regis Library and Exeter Central Library and paper copies can be inspected at the council offices here in Sidmouth.

To save paper we have provided the web link, however, if you are unable to view or download documents via our web site please contact us directly and we can supply a paper copy of the proposed changes and a form for making comments.

Please ensure that we receive any response by 12.00 noon on Monday 30 November 2015 at the latest.”

Hello, Mr Thickett, hello, anybody there …?

Our Local Plan Inspector, Mr Anthony Thickett, was efficient and to-the-point when he held his two examinations into our draft Local Plan. He eventually decided that, such was our council’s poor drafting, he would have to make many of its major decisions himself. He asked for more information and got a further 1,000 plus pages of evidence (some of it duplicated) in September 2015. He also got a promotion to Chief Planning Inspector for Wales – more work for him.

Our Local Plan examination is now itself dragging on, and well on its way to mirroring how long the Current draft Local Plan took (at least 7 years). The inspection process started way before in August 2013, when Mr Thickett threw out the first draft submitted by EDDC because Mr Thickett decided it contained 53 major amendments agreed by councillors on the Development Management Committee and Cabinet and ratified by full council AFTER public consultation that then required the public to be consulted yet again.

It was thrown out again in March 2014 for still having major flaws and being considered unsound by Mr Thickett. The 2015 hearing was also inconclusive.

Is it going to be thrown out again? Is it so controversial it will be a major headliner? Is it lost down the back of a sofa?

EDDC appears to be in no hurry to see it arrive. Developers continue to benefit from its unavailability. What’s the problem?

We appreciate that Mr Thickett is a very busy man (not least because of all the extra work EDDC has forced him to do) but surely this sorry saga has to end somehow and somewhere – even if it is (heaven forfend) back to its on-its-last-legs drawing board.

And, if it were to fail again, would this constitute misfeasance or malfeasance in office on the part of officers and councillors involved – a criminal offence?

Never mind the quality- feel the (weight of) the pages!

In response to my recent plea for Watch Readers to submit articles (to eastdevonwatch@gmail.com ), Owl has just received this:

The latest round of consultation on the local plan ends on 30 September, see previous Watch article:


Readers may not have had time, or indeed may never have the time, to look at the paper deluge Ed Freeman has sent to Inspector Thickett this time around. It comprises a covering letter from Ed; a summary report and 13 supporting papers all of which amount to over 1,000 pages!

It’s the latest attempt by EDDC to try to convince Mr Thickett that 17,100 (minimum) is the right housing target over the next 18 years; that we have a 5+ year land supply in East Devon, despite what the Developers’ say; that none of this building will have an adverse effect on our rare landscape and habitats (all we need is collective membership of the National Trust (see above); and to carry out some belated consultations and box ticking exercises.

There are:

6 papers on housing delivery;
2 papers on housing numbers;
an overdue Habitat Assessment

plus the republishing of

2 supporting papers,
one commissioned by the National Trust
the other for Cranbrook;

and, finally,

2 papers on a sustainability box ticking exercise.

There are also two public consultations in progress: one on Gypsy sites the other on village Built Up Area Boundaries (BUABs).

All this should have been done in preparation of the Draft Plan years ago [at least in 2011 and possibly earlier when “The Local Development Framework Panel” was spending its time, under ex-Councillor Brown, mostly visiting sites of interest to the East Devon Business Forum – ed].

So is this the action of a Local Planning Authority confident in what it is doing – or does it have the feel someone desperately trying to play catch-up?

Four consultancy contractors have been employed to write these papers during August 2015.

Hard cases are hard to sell.

Dear Reader, it is all being done in your name, guess who is footing the bill!

Further evidence for the Local Plan and EDDC tries to pass the buck to the National Trust and Woodland Trust for required open spaces

Mr Thickett said he would allow the participants at the housing session an opportunity to see and comment on the Council’s further submissions.

The further submissions can be accessed here:

If you wish to make any comments on the new evidence and submissions only; on other matters will not be accepted, please submit these comments to me the Programme Officer by 30 September 2015.”

Our comment:

The EDDC “evidence” does not inspire us with enough confidence that sufficient robust evidence has been supplied by EDDC, particularly in respect of Habitat Mitigation obligations.

Many aspects have been left for the Inspector to decide because Natural England and EDDC cannot agree that enough has been done to safeguard special sites.

It also says that the Exmouth Splash Masterplan as it stood at the last hearing, may well not be the one that Exmouth ends up with but they don’t see why this should hold up the Local Plan.

The significance of Dawlish Warren, Exe Estuary and Pebblebed Heaths to Planning in East Devon

One of our correspondents writes again:

Another thing the Talaton appeal has thrown a spotlight on is the lack of progress EDDC has made turning a strategy into an action plan. In this case it concerns EDDC’s failure in the draft Local Plan to meet obligatory requirements to demonstrate that it has a plan to mitigate the pressure increased population will place on three very sensitive wildlife habitats: Dawlish Warren; the Exe estuary and the Pebblebed Heaths.

This is something that EDDC, Teignbridge and Exeter have been working on since around 2012/2013 when they commissioned the “South-east Devon European Mitigation Strategy” report. This study concluded that, without appropriate mitigation measures, further development within 10Km of these sites would have adverse effects.

One of the central mitigation measures is the identification and creation of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) to replace specialised habitat and to provide additional recreation space to draw people away from these sites. Unfortunately, having identified one particular SANG, EDDC promptly granted planning permission for it, even before the report was published (see para 7.19 of the report)!

Since the beginning of August 2014, EDDC have been trousering between £749 and £626 per dwelling from developers to “make it easier for developers to ‘deliver’ such mitigation” but in the words of Natural England (submission to the Local Plan examination dated 11 June 2015):

“We are becoming increasingly concerned regarding the lack of progress on the delivery of mitigation measures which have not yet been implemented. We are aware that the Authority has been collecting funds for mitigation but delivery of such measures has not kept pace with its collection….. We are also concerned that recent planning applications and permissions may inhibit the delivery of proposed mitigation and that that mitigation may require modification to be delivered.”

Furthermore this letter from Natural England makes it clear that EDDC failed, prior to submitting the revised local plan for inspection, to update or consult further on the Habitat Regulation assessment section which Natural England, the statutory consultee, had stated in 2013: “does not meet the legal requirements as set out in Section 102 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 (as amended) nor National Planning Policy Framework paragraph 166.”

The Talaton appeal gives us an up to date view of Planning Inspectorate thinking on this which looks unequivocal to me:

“60. No clear mechanism has been put forward that would ensure the delivery of the SANGs that form an essential element in the Council’s Mitigation Strategy. In the absence of appropriate mitigation, in line with the Mitigation Strategy, the effect of the proposed residential development, in combination with other planned development, is likely to give rise to adverse effects on the integrity of the SAC/SPA as a result of additional recreational pressure.
61. Regulation 61(5) of the Habitats Regulations identifies that the competent authority may only agree to a plan or project after having ascertained that it will not adversely affect the integrity of a European site, subject to regulation 62, regarding considerations of over-riding public interest. That approach is reflected in paragraph 118 of the Framework which advises that planning permission should be refused where significant harm resulting from a development cannot be avoided (through locating on an alternative site with less harmful impacts), adequately mitigated, or compensated for.
62. In this case, there is little information before me to determine whether the proposed level of residential accommodation could be provided in another location, outside of the 10km zone surrounding the SPA. However, even if no alternative solution exists, the proposals are not put forward on the basis of any imperative reasons of over-riding public interest, of a social or economic nature, that would outweigh the harm to the SAC/SPA, having regard to Regulation 62 of the Habitat Regulations. As such, to grant planning permission for the proposed developments would be contrary to the aims of The Habitats Regulations and paragraph 118 of the Framework, both of which dictate that planning permission should be refused.”

Without resolution this matter looks like a showstopper for the Local Plan. But how easy is it going to be to agree a mitigation plan with a local authority that sets aside “Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace” one day then grants planning permission on it the next?

EU growth targets cut

But don’t worry – East Devon is going to be a little spot of very high growth, according to our draft Local Plan put together by our Tory councillors and their officers, who are much better informed than the European Central Bank … aren’t they?

We must hope so.

Will the Planning Inspector agree, we wonder?


All singing from the same hymn sheet?

A correspondent writes:

The Talaton appeal decision summarised on “the Watch” recently, intrigued me. It brought to mind another recent appeal, Down Close, Newton Poppleford, dated 29 May 2015, in which the Inspector similarly upheld EDDC’s decision to reject the application but also threw doubt on whether EDDC can demonstrate a 5 year land supply. Something crucial to adoption of the Local Plan.

Two different Inspectors are involved and they are clearly singing from the same hymn sheet. Inspector Thickett is due to produce his report on the Examination in Public of EDDC’s Local Plan fairly soon. If he comes from the same broad church as the Appeal Inspectors then we might expect EDDC to get a rough ride on its housing needs and numbers. Could they be so unconvincing as to return us to a developers’ free for all?

Here is an extract of what Inspector Ball wrote about Newton Poppleford at the end of March:

“Just before my site visit the Council submitted a housing monitoring update purporting to show that it can now demonstrate a 5.45 year supply, including a 20% buffer due to previous under-supply.

I have reservations about this. Following significant objections by the Local Plan Inspector, proposed modifications to the NEDLP are currently out to consultation; the new objective assessment of housing need has not been fully tested; and the appellants raise serious concerns about the development timescales of several major sites relied on by the Council, throwing doubt on their deliverability within the 5 year period. These are matters to be tested and resolved by the Local Plan Inspector. For this appeal, as things stand, I do not consider that it is possible to conclude with any confidence that the Council can demonstrate a 5-year supply of deliverable housing sites.”

And here is an extract of what Inspector Preston said at on 24 August:

From the information in front of me, the Council has not demonstrated that previous under delivery has been accounted for within its five-year supply calculations. Even if the previous under-delivery has been accounted for within the estimated need of 17,100 identified within the SHMA, which is not certain, the way in which the Council have addressed the previous under-supply is not consistent with the aim of addressing it within the first five years, where possible. In the Council’s projection the 17,100 has been split evenly over the plan period, ‘the ‘Liverpool’ method. Whilst the PPG is not prescriptive in stating that any under-deliver must be recovered within the first five years it sets a clear preference for this approach, ‘where possible’. No evidence was presented by the Council to suggest that it would not be possible to recover any previous under-supply over the next five years and the Local Plan Inspector has previously written to the Council to advocate the ‘Sedgefield’ approach with the aim of boosting housing supply.

“Moreover, I have concerns that the projected delivery rates for the new settlement at Cranbrook are not supported by clear evidence. The predicted completion rate for the two phases of the development over each of the following five years is 467 dwellings per annum. However, the March 2015 HMU identifies that there had been 757 completions between ‘summer’ 2012 and August 2014. It is not clear when development commenced but the published completion rate suggests a figure in the region of 350 to 375 dwellings per year over the two year period.

The Council suggested orally at the Hearing that there is evidence to suggest that delivery rates are likely to increase but no firm evidence was submitted to show how the predicted delivery rates had been derived. In effect, those predictions show an increase of approximately 100 dwellings a year at the site, over and above the published rate of completion to date. That rate of delivery is not supported by the evidence presented to me.”

“UK housebuilding held back by shortfall”

“The Federation of Master Builders says 66% of construction firms have been forced to turn down work because of a shortage of skilled workers. This follows the Local Government Association’s declaration that the UK is training “too many hairdressers and not enough bricklayers”.

Housebuilders including Persimmon and Barratt Developments have warned that a shortage of skilled construction workers is hitting the housing market by holding back the building of new property.”

The Daily Telegraph, Page: 31 Daily Mail, Page: 73 Independent I, Page: 2

So how will this affect the number of houses in EDDC’s Local Plan?

And what impact will the labour shortage have on Govt Inspectors’ decisions nationwide?

Another cart, another horse behind it: consultation on Gypsy and Traveller Policy

This should have been in the Local Plan from Day 1. The Local Plan Inspector warned that he could not accept the last draft partly because it was still missing.

NOW (after local elections and after EDDC admitted it is almost certainly going to be near Cranbrook) we get consultation as below! No wonder some people think EDDC rather likes not having a Local Plan – developers free for all and none of those nasty decisions they would rather not take.

The consultation letter:

Dear Sir/Madam

Gypsy and traveller accommodation – Development Plan Document (DPD)

East Devon District Council would like to hear your views to help us develop plans and policies to guide the allocation of land for gypsy and traveller use. The replies we receive will help us to determine where new sites should be located, what type of development they should contain and how they should be laid out.

With other Devon authorities, we commissioned a needs assessment by RRR Consultants, and this forms the basis for the figures in our Local Plan. The study concluded that, between 2014 and 2034 there is a need for:
· 37 additional gypsy pitches with 22 of these needed in the first 5 years;
· 3 new travelling showpeople pitches, with 1 of these needed in the first 5 years;
· 4-5 temporary/emergency stopping places, each 4-5 pitches in the first 5 years (this applies across the study area as a whole. East Devon is not specifically mentioned, although Devon County Council state that East Devon has the highest level of unauthorised stops in the County, so it could be concluded that at least one of these temporary/emergency sites should be in East Devon); and
· 23 houses for gypsies and travellers (this would be met through the general housing stock).

Most of the immediate need arises from overcrowding of existing sites and from newly formed families on existing sites (usually children reaching maturity and having their own children) who wish to stay close to extended family. Most of the need is on the western side of the District, around the M5/A30.

What should be included?
The Gypsy and Traveller accommodation DPD may cover the topics listed below and we are particularly interested to know what alternative or additional issues you think should be addressed and what factors you consider should be taken into account in the overall plan production work.
1) Consider how sites could be provided by the public and private sectors and the management arrangements to support their operation;
2) allocate specific sites and/or land areas for new development and set maximum pitch numbers or site areas;
3) include policies in respect of development of:
a) new residential pitches;
b) employment/mixed residential provision;
c) amenity, play areas and community facilities;
d) other possible uses not detailed above.
4) establish principles of development and design standards to promote high quality development;
5) define mitigation which might be required to off-set potential adverse impacts that might otherwise arise as a consequence of development;
6) determine how to monitor the success and quality of what is being built; and
7) determine whether planning applications submitted to the Council should be granted planning permission and what conditions might apply.

Getting involved
You can find out more about the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation DPD by viewing the Development Management Committee papers from the 16 June 2015 online at:

Click to access 160615-combined-dmc-agenda-compresed.pdf

Then please either email your comments to localplan@eastdevon.gov.uk with ‘Gypsy and Traveller DPD’ in the subject box or post to:
Planning Policy Section
East Devon District Council
Sidmouth, EX10 8HL

To arrive on or before: Friday 21 September 2015.

Next steps
The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2014) will form the overarching evidence base for the DPD and will set the targets for pitch provision in the District. A call for sites will invite landowners to submit details of available land for consideration and an assessment of the suitability of such sites will form the basis of, or feed directly into, the publication draft of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation DPD. In addition to other opportunities to comment, the publication draft will be made publically available for formal comment and any comments received will be submitted, along with the DPD, and supporting evidence to the planning Inspectorate for formal examination.

Please pass this communication on to anyone else you think might be interested in getting involved.

Gypsy and traveller sites will be at Cranbrook

Word on the street is that Planning Inspector Mr Thickett would brook no nonsense – they will be at Cranbrook and there will be 30 pitches, they will all be completed by 2016 and that will all be in the plan – right he asks, right say subdued officers.

Now, we were told that “someone” would have to come forward with a site. It seems now that EDDC has a pretty good idea where that site (or sites) will be.

There may be quite a few people in Cranbrook expecting to share that information very soon – not least the new town council!

Day 1 of hearings over and Mr Thickett on cracking form!

Perhaps he will come and work for us one day and show how it’s done!

Local Plan hearings – full information

With thanks to Independent Councillor Susie Bond (Feniton) from whose blog this is taken:

← Who wants to be a millionaire?
Local Plan hearing sessions kick off next week
Posted on June 30, 2015 by susiebond
Entrance to the Council Chamber at the Knowle in Sidmouth
Entrance to the Council Chamber at the Knowle in Sidmouth

Anthony Thickett, the Planning Inspector charged with scrutinising EDDC’s Local Plan, re-opens the hearing sessions next week at the Council’s offices at the Knowle in Sidmouth. The programme for the sessions is below and is open to members of the public. There is, however, no right to public speaking:

Tuesday, 7 July: Gypsies and Travellers Plan, and allocation sites, including Cranbrook
Wednesday, 8 July: Housing (excluding Cranbrook)
Thursday, 9 July: Reserve day
Friday, 10 July: Community Infrastructure Levy
The Local Plan has been the subject of an 8-week public consultation exercise and submissions have been sent in by both Gittisham and Feniton Parish Councils.

In total, 145 organisations and individuals submitted comments and these have been forwarded to Mr Thickett for his consideration in advance of the hearing sessions. Every submission is available here (http://eastdevon.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/emerging-plans-and-policies/the-new-local-plan/examination-and-hearing-sessions-and-further-consultation-at-april-2015/responses-to-consultation-16-april-to-12-june-2015/)

modern housesThe Local Plan currently envisages 950 new homes every year for the next 18 years. This is a very high level of build and doesn’t take account of the likelihood (even certainty) that the country will go into recession at some point in that period, which will mean that the houses just won’t be built. This is exactly the position that was faced by East Devon following the crash of 2008. The easy availability of finance completely dried up, so there were no buyers in the market for new homes, and developers simply stopped building. This resulted in an undersupply of housing which has to be taken up in the first 5 years of the Local Plan.

This simple piece of logic hasn’t prevented the developers submitting extensive papers on the need to build even more houses over the plan period.

Residents in Feniton will be interested to read the submissions from Wainhomes (land behind Louvigny Close), Strategic Land Partnership (who hold an option on Camp Field on Ottery Road) and PCL Planning (who act for Strategic Land Partnership and who appear to think that Feniton’s sustainability credentials know no bounds).

Part of the emerging Local Plan to be scrutinised next week is Strategy 27. This lists 15 or so of the larger villages and smaller towns (and the list includes Feniton).

Neighbourhood Plan public consultation exercise in Feniton last year
Neighbourhood Plan public consultation exercise in Feniton last year

The Plan proposes that these settlements allow building only within their Built-Up Area Boundary and that development is in accord with a Neighbourhood Plan. Feniton is currently preparing a Neighbourhood Plan as enshrined in the Localism Act (2011). There have been a number of public consultation exercises in the village and residents have had the opportunity to voice their opinion on the future of their community.

Other villages in East Devon will not be developed unless they draw up a Neighbourhood Plan, and their Built-Up Area Boundaries have been removed which effectively means that any new development would be in open countryside, which is unacceptable.

I’ll be attending two of the sessions and will post a blog about the sessions as soon as I can.